Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at
Sun Jul 13 22:30:16 MDT 2003

Gary wrote:

>>This is a strange phenomenon, Tom.  [Howard] used to campaign on the
"Honest John" tag but never mentions that now. However has he been "proved
" a liar?  Yes although that has not penetrated to the level of popular
consciousness.  It is still provoking the response of "Who cares?"<<

It doesn’t seem so strange to me. The public is wearily accustomed to lying
politicians. They hoped briefly that a boring little accountant type like
Howard might turn out to be boringly honest, but they soon found out
otherwise. The most famous case was introducing the Goods and Services Tax,
which he had promised to “never ever” do. Then came the children overboard
affair. So by now it has definitely penetrated that he is a liar. The
question is why, *despite this fact*, the response is “who cares”.

>>Largely, I think, because no section of the ruling class cares and we are
still very much at the stage when their ideas about the War, and about
Howard are the ideas that dominate.<<

I think a small section of the ruling class does care, but doesn’t want to
stir things up for fear of rousing the rest of the populace – who do
actually care, but are ground down and think it’s pointless to resist. The
general populace is extremely discontented, but because they feel powerless
it's easy to divert their anger against scapegoats, such as refugees or
Indonesian terrorists. In this sense, ruling class ideas do dominate, but
it’s fragile. 

>>I really cannot detect among the working class a break from their
defensive position, which is fundamentally one of apathy.<<

Entirely true. But it’s a fragile apathy. Given a lead, people do respond,
as we saw in the huge anti-war rallies. Going back earlier, there was a lot
of anger about the GST.

>>I note too that Labor has hesitated to attack the security agencies who
knew about the falseness of the Niger uranium story but claimed not to have
informed the government.<<

Yes this is an important point. Perhaps I am wrong to think Labor will use
the Senate to dig for dirt. I can think of two considerations here. One is
that Labor does support aggression against North Korea, and that’s emerging
as an important issue – though perhaps only temporarily, as
Bush-Blair-Howard try to deflect public opinion from the intelligence
fiasco. The other is that to blame the spy agencies is to play Howard’s
game. Clearly he and Bush have lined up the spy agencies to take the fall.


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